The art of the lip sync has had a profound impact on the state of our…ok no, but dammit is lip synching fun.
For those of you locked in a Faraday cage, pretending to sing has become all the rage these days. You have Michelle Obama doing it for Carpool Karaoke, Tim Cook using it to open up events, and of course the ever entertaining LL Cool J and Chrissy Teigen using it as a platform for the Spike series, Lip Sync Battle. On the show, celebrities battle each other by pretending to sing songs with dramatic effect. With a new app, anyone can now jam out in battles with their friends.
It’s quite hard to go wrong with such a fun starting point, and for the most part, the app’s creator Wurrly doesn’t let us down. Upon opening the app and selecting create, users are presented with a list of genres including pop, rock, rap, country, classics, and latin. There are also themed categories like love songs and a special section for tracks coming from prior Lip Sync Battles. Once you pick a song, the next step is to get to work recording.
Rather than just straight recording on top of an audio track like in Dubsmash, songs are accompanied with lyrics to make it possible to record in one take. Users can also select a number of accessories that serve a similar purpose as lenses in Snapchat. You can go for a crazy glasses vibe, a cat ears look, and even a full flower child outfit.
Wurrly did most of the development of the accessories and facial tracking in house. The groundwork has already been laid alongside another company called Facio to do emotional recognition. This means that in the future, tattoos, masks and other accessories will be able to alter their appearance based on your emotional state. If you’re singing a sad verse in a ballad, a mask could animate differently than during the power hook of a pop song.
“Our intention was really to create a world of fun,” said Nadine Levitt, CEO of Wurrly.
At the end of filming your epic production, there is a list of post processing effects you can choose from to put the final touches on a battle. This includes things like confetti intros, lights and pyro effects.
Apps that license songs often struggle to build up and maintain a healthy and attractive music catalog. Levitt cites a relationship with Universal Music Group as one of the key factors that helped to get the licensing process off the ground. The starting library is diverse and even includes a number of country songs that haven’t garnered much attention on the show itself. Levitt sees the app as a way to continue to build the Lip Sync Battle community.
To generate revenue, Wurrly will be offering specialty items to its community at a price. This could include limited addition effects and masks. Because the app has such a strong relationship with a real world show generating new content every week, Lip Sync Battle can also benefit by leveraging promotional content to boost fan engagement.
The early version of the app works pretty smoothly although one drawback is that creations are tied to the app itself. You can share them for battles and link videos on social media, but they ultimately pull you back into the app. Synching between lyrics and music was also an issue in a few instances. Lyrics for the Eminem and Rihanna track Love the Way You Lie seemed oddly timed, and in one case, the lyrics for the Lynyrd Skynyrd hit Free Bird were incorrect. These were all relatively minor quips and will hopefully be fixed by the time heavy traffic starts battling.
If you’re not already into the craze, the premise of lip syncing may seem about as odd as watching American Idol on mute while listening to the track on Spotify. However, there is something special about a nonjudgemental space where you can truly step away and not care about anything other than having fun with your friends. I spent about an hour after 5pm on a Friday making the gem below in the TechCrunch offices. I can’t completely say there was no office judgement, but as promised, it surely was a world of fun.